The number of people out of work in the UK has risen further, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The number of unemployed people rose by 108,000 to 1.54 million between October and December pushing the jobless rate up to 5.1% – the highest rate for three years – from 4.8% in the previous quarter.
But the narrower measure of the number jobless people claiming benefit fell by 2,000 in January to 904,200.
The ONS noted that the manufacturing sector was hard hit by job cuts. Employment in the sector fell to a record low of 3.09 million in the three months to December, down 106,000 on the period last year. Over all sectors, however, the ONS said that fewer jobs had been lost through redundancy, while the actual number of vacancies across the country had risen during the three-month period.
Employment Minister Margaret Hodge said the rise in unemployment should not cause too much concern saying the latest figures reflected a “mixed picture. We have got nearly 200,000 more people working in Britain today than we had a year ago.”